It ain’t cheap. And don’t be silly to think that this is some type of investment with an ROI (return-on-investment) attached. That implies an expectation that the kid gets a scholarship of some sort. How’s that for pressure? And to be clear, this isn’t some type of partnership where the parent acts like a venture capitalist funding a bright young start-up. I’ve heard all the ridiculous analogies. But at the end of the day, you need to have your eyes wide open as to what you’re getting into and plan accordingly.
Showcase baseball is basically the summer and fall 15U-18U seasons. The fall might have four to five tournaments and the summer might have six to seven tournaments. That might not sound like much if you’re already on a youth travel ball team who play twice as many tournaments per season. Apples and oranges. There are major differences. If you read my post on the 12-season blueprint for high school players you’ll quickly discover that seven of these important seasons are “Showcase” seasons:
- 15U Fall Showcase
- 15U Summer Showcase
- 16U Fall Showcase
- 16U Summer Showcase
- 17U Fall Showcase
- 17U Summer Showcase
- 18U Fall Showcase
The summer showcase season is typically longer since it not only includes more tournaments, but the length of those events are usually a week long. In the fall, you have fewer tournaments and each event is usually four days (using Fridays and Mondays – better plan for missed school days).
Summer and Fall Costs
Taking a look back at the 16U summer showcase season for my son, it was a grind for the entire family. He was on the road for 42 days. My wife was the official driver with his younger siblings in tow. I was able to take a couple weeks off to watch several tournaments but the rest of the time I had to work. Fortunately, it wasn’t 42 straight days, but it was still an adventure. We pretty much tracked all the costs involved with the final damage coming in near $16,880. Mind you, that’s just one summer showcase season. Sure, we probably could have cut some costs to get it around $14,000. But nevertheless, here’s the painful itemized accounting:
- $2,000 Showcase Team Dues and two (2) Uniform Sets
- $ 400 Wood Bats (3)
- $ 350 BBCOR Bat
- $ 250 Wilson A2000 infielder’s glove
- $ 80 Batting Gloves (4 pairs)
- $ 285 Batting Cage Rentals on the Road
- $ 700 PG Junior National Showcase Registration
- $ 60 Laundry
- $5,040 Food (42 days @ $120/day)
- $6,120 Hotel (36 days @ $170/night including taxes, etc.)
- $1,200 Gas (20 fill ups @ $60/tank)
- $ 395 Parent tournament passes and parking fees
Now if you go off the beaten path to do some unofficial college visits or take a tour of Louisville Slugger bat factory when you’re in KY or the Coca-Cola Headquarters when you’re in the ATL, that’s all extra costs which I did not include. Plus you might need to fly to a tournament or two. I didn’t include any airfare because we didn’t fly.
The 15U summer season wasn’t as bad but we did add some college camps to the schedule. It came out closer to $12,000. His 17U summer season $12,000. So all-in for three summer seasons…$41,000.
The fall costs are much less since there aren’t as many hotel stays and the Showcase dues and uniforms are around $1,250 versus $2,000 in the summer. But you do have some winter college camps that he may need to attend plus the Showcase organization usually has a big college showcase camp/tryout in late fall to select their summer showcase teams for the following year. But you can realistically expect something near $5,000 for each fall season. So all-in for the four fall seasons…$20,000.
$61,000 Total Cost For Seven Seasons of Showcase Ball
I’m not sure what your reaction is to that number. Did you expect a lower number? Higher? I can tell you that I had never imagined a number that high. Sure, I made my best efforts to plan for some of those expenses but I completely missed on other expenses. Sure, you might live closer to the showcase venues and not have the same level of expenses. But maybe you live farther and have to fly. You might have family that you can stay with. Maybe you rent a house with other families to cut costs. Instead of eating out, maybe you buy groceries and cook. There are ways to cut costs without too much creativity.
There are also a few showcase organizations that don’t charge players who play on their “Prime” team. After a very successful tournament, my son was sent an email by one of these teams inviting him to switch organizations. It was sure tempting. But in the end, we never moved. My son had already received multiple scholarship offers and was verbally committed. There was nothing to gain from making the switch other than saving some money, but that would have been at the expense of his relationships with his current showcase team.
The coaches from his showcase team had busted their butts for several years to get colleges to come see him play and then continued to follow-up with those same coaches to help keep him on their radar. They set numerous unofficial college visits and were always a text or phone call away no matter the day or time. They were relentless advocates, rain or shine. No, we weren’t going anywhere. Loyalty.